Title: The Wizard Hunters
Author: Martha Wells
Tremaine is looking for a way to kill herself when Gerard, an old family friend, shows up to ask for the sphere her uncle gave her when she was a child. Their country is under attack by an unknown enemy, and the spheres are a vital piece of the defensive effort. But the sphere refuses to respond unless Tremaine is there, so she finds herself enlisted in an adventure stranger than any she could’ve imagined . . .
The plot takes a little while to get going on Tremaine’s side, but her character is compelling enough to draw you along. She wants to kill herself, but not in a manner that would leave anyone suspecting murder. Volunteering for dangerous work helping people in the bombed-out areas of the city hasn’t worked so far—she’s still more alive than she wants to be.
The details of her character, her country, and the war are precise and subtle. I really like the way Wells draws people on the page. Tremaine doesn’t understand her own motives, and she comments at one point she feels split between a flippant personality and a dangerous one, and she’s not sure which is closer to the real her. And her relationship with Ilias feels right: this isn’t a romance, although she is attracted to him, mostly because they’re in the middle of a big mess and trying not to get killed. Maybe later, there will be time to figure out if it’s love. For now, they trust and rely on each other even when they have a lot of trouble understanding each other.
I also liked the different societies in play. The cultural differences aren’t just window dressing, they’re key. Ilias’s people don’t just dislike wizards, their whole society is built around killing them (which makes their reaction to sorcerers like Gerard funny and tense). And Tremaine’s people may have the technology and magic, but when she’s on Ilias’s world she’s dealing with enemies he understands far better.
Overall this manages to be both very character-driven and packed with action scenes. It ties some things up but the bigger questions are unanswered, and it will be interesting to see where the series goes from here. I rate this book Recommended.